CommonWell is a trans-disciplinary service-learning program for graduate and pre-professional students at Boston University and leaders of community-based organizations in Dorchester, Massachusetts. It is designed to build bridges across traditional divisions between the financial, medical, legal, and educational services as well as between academic training and community realities. As an innovative, service-learning program, it is designed to couple learning activities with service actions, with equal contributions from the academic and community collaborators. As a trans-disciplines program, it aims to train pre-service professionals from across academic disciplines to analyze the root causes of social injustice and promote cross-fertilization of social service fields. In addition, it strives to create partnerships with the populations impacted by the service actions, thus minimizing service fragmentation, maximizing impact, and fostering solidarity.
Following the service-learning model, students work with various community-based organizations learning about, among others, community organizing, financial education, health education, case management, and environmental justice. In order to place these experiences in a larger context, students engage in a formal curriculum consisting of readings, lectures, and discussion sessions to learn about social determinants of health, root causes of poverty, and structural violence.